Probably our most fun gig to date was in Guilin Victory Park, a massive water park, a few square kilometres in area. We must have seen thousands of people there enjoying the rides and sunshine, everything in China seems to be on a completely different scale to the west, bigger, faster, longer, and definitely more crowded! This place was no exception, roller coasters, restaurants, enough hotel rooms to accommodate a small army, tens of different water slides and a two hundred metre-long fake beach!
After arriving, setting up our gear, meeting the organiser, sound checking etc, Flup and I headed to the fake beach – it was pretty impressive! We looked around and there were a few hundred people on the beach and in the water, almost all of which were wearing huge life jackets, I joked that this was because they couldn’t swim. We swam into the middle of the water and I heard one of the guards up above blowing his whistle in my direction, the water was only 1.5m so I ignored him and carried on swimming. I began to worry slightly when everyone around me started cheering in unison, in anticipation of something but I didn’t know what. I soon realised my folly, and the reason everyone was wearing life jackets, this fake beach came with a fully-equipped four metre high wave machine, I kid you not. I was completely stranded, and all I could do was try and ride the wave – the force was incredible, I shot towards the beach, almost flying through the air for about twenty metres, and then I began to sink. The waves pushed me under and relentlessly barraged me with more water, pinning my head against the floor, I was upside-down by now. I held my breath and waited, I knew eventually it would subside and I could breathe once again. After what seemed like an age, I was on my feet, my heart racing and a sense that everyone around me was staring. To be fair, they probably were, out of all the people there, I was one of two foreigners in the whole place.
After all that excitement it was time to have a drink and get ready for the gig, we played a fast-paced thirty minute set, an afternoon gig on a pretty impressive stage, the speakers were deafening and we soon attracted the attention of the passers-by. In true Chinese fashion they all came, watched, with blank expressions, a few claps here and there, but usually deafeningly quiet. These gigs pay well, but the atmosphere isn’t exactly rock and roll. I’d much prefer playing in a bar or an actual music venue. After we finished we headed to some more rides, because of course we had to try the thirteen metre vertical drop slide! Flup had forgotten to mention we were playing at a water park, so Rob had turned up in jeans, I think he was a big gutted. Flup and I went off anyway, found the mega slide and queued up. After forty minutes we were about to have our turn, one at a time you’d enter this cylindrical capsule, give the OK to a young Chinese boy and he’d push the button opening the trapdoor and sending you crashing down to earth – I was pretty excited. He took one look at me and said, no. I asked him why not and he explained the material my shorts were made of were not adequate for this ride and I would have to go on another one. Gutted I walked over to the other slide and went down, it was actually pretty good, it was fast and straight with a few bumps, I picked up enough speed for my stomach to feel sick and my entire body to lose contact with the slide. I guess over 70% of these rides would not be allowed in the UK, especially not the four metre wave pool!
After some food we watched the models on the catwalk and waited for the show to end before we could go to the organisers bar. Once the models were done a group of about ten racing drivers came and in groups of three or four came on stage accompanied by the models. The models would get come off the stage and go into a black bag – the prize money. They would stack a plate full of bunches of ten thousand Chinese Yuan and go onto the stage, the largest win was 100k RMB. That bag must have had close to one million yuan inside!! This slightly detracted from the amount we had made, but for a thirty minute gig and free food and entry into the park I feel we did well. Bring on the next gig!